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11th September 2004

At the beginning of the week I promised you a DVD review of one of the Summer blockbusters, and now I'm delivering. If you click here, or on the sleeve image, right, you'll be taken to the Zeta Minor review of the Region 2 version of Universal's Van Helsing Two Disc Collector's Edition DVD.

The disc is released here on October the 11th. The Region 4 (Australian) version, which appears to be virtually-identical, is available now. The Region 1 version is released at the end of September. There's a lot of confusion about what features the single disc and three-disc US editions will contain, so I'll update the review as more information becomes available.

I now have the final set of Roswell DVDs, and can clarify what the bonus materials are. The Class of 2002 - Making Roswell Season Three featurette is thirteen minutes long, and features interviews with Executive Producer / Writer Jason Katims, stars Jason Behr, Brendan Behr, William Sadler, Adam Rodriguez, Katherine Heigl, Majandra Delfino and Shiri Appleby. For more details, see the News entry for August the 28th.


8th September 2004

DD Home Entertainment have issued a short press release about their forthcoming Nineteen Eighty-Four DVD, which I think is worth reproducing in its entirety...

BBC CLASSIC SF DRAMA PAINSTAKINGLY RESTORED

Classic TV specialist DD Home Entertainment claims to have set a new quality benchmark on its restoration work for the 1954 BBC drama Nineteen Eighty-Four.

This early landmark of British television, which will be available for the first time ever on DVD and video on November 8th, required extensive work on it, but viewers will - according to DD - find the restored picture even better than when it was first transmitted! In December 1954 videotape recorders (even for broadcast use) were two years away and existed, if at all, only in prototype form in research laboratories. Since 1947 BBC engineers had been able to make crude recordings of TV pictures simply by pointing a film camera at a monitor screen. However, dramas were not recorded until 1953 and Nineteen Eighty-Four remains one of the earliest surviving examples of the art-form. It was recorded at the time using an ingenious system of modified telecine machines.

New transfers of the film recording were commissioned from BBC Resources using its highest quality Spirit datacine equipment. Special arrangements were made with the BBC Film and Videotape Library for access to the archive master material, which cannot normally be used.

The new copies of the play were graded. This is the process of taking each shot (or even part shot) and adjusting the brightness and contrast. 'Dirty cuts' (where a frame is made of superimposed and distorted pictures from two cameras) were removed or, where possible, repaired using paintbox techniques. Next, every frame of the play was examined and film dirt, scratches and other defects were laboriously re-touched and pointed out by hand. Finally a video process was applied to give the studio sequences the fluid motion appearance that they would have had on original broadcast. The result - one of the earliest surviving examples of British television has been restored to exceptional quality.

Nineteen Eighty Four will be available from November 8th 2004

Anchor Bay will release a box set of the first three Children of the Corn films on October the 18th. All three films will have a choice of Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1 or DTS sound tracks. The first film will feature a commentary track by director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirkby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains; a featurette titled Harvesting Horror: Children of the Corn; a theatrical trailer; biographies; "Kids Artwork" title sequence gallery; and storyboard and stills galleries.

The two sequels will feature film notes and biographies. RRP for the set is 24.99. The discs will also be made available separately, for 14.99 each.

Network has officially announced that Chancer - The Complete Series will be released on October the 4th. The set will contain all twenty episodes of the series, spread across six discs.

The series made a star of Clive Owen, in his first major TV role, as a wheeler-dealer business analyst who buys out a failing sports car company. The series also starred Lynsey Baxter, with guest appearances by luminaries including Leslie Phillips, Sean Pertwee, Benjamin Whitrow and Peter Vaughan (who would later star alongside Owen again, in a memorable episode of Paula Milne's detective series Second Sight). The disc's only bonus feature is a stills gallery.  RRP for the set is 39.99.

Tartan have announced their first two November DVD releases.

The first is Kim Jee-Woon's psychological thriller A Tale of Two Sisters, which will be released as a two-disc set containing almost three hours of bonus material. The film, a haunted house flick about two convalescing sisters who are bullied by their stepmother, will be accompanied by "commentaries with director, and actresses Im Soo-jung; Moon Geun-young; cinematographer and lighting director" (answers on a postcard...) The set will also feature behind-the-scenes documentaries, cast interviews, deleted scenes and a stills gallery. The film will be presented with a choice of Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 tracks, with an anamorphic transfer. The set is released on November the 22nd, with an RRP of 19.99.

I'm always interested in seeing what Malice Aforethought's Hywel Bennett's been up to, and One For The Road, Chris Cooke's male-bonding drama about a group of men who meet on a rehabilitation course for drunk drivers, sounds like it should give him plenty to get his teeth into! Bennett plays a retired property tycoon. Cooke's film, shot on DV, also features Heartland's Rupert Proctor, Holby City's Greg Chisholm, and Juile Legrand and Micaiah Dring (both from Footballer's Wives).

The Lottery-funded film will be supported by a commentary track by Chris Cooke and producer Kate Ogborn; a cast commentary; and three short films, including Cooke's 1999 film, Shifting Units, with director's commentary. The film will have a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 audio tracks, and will feature English HoH subtitles, and an audio described track. The disc is scheduled for November the 22nd, with an RRP of 15.99.


7th September 2004

Fox is releasing a box set of Matt Groening's Futurama series on October the 25th. The Complete Collection set will have an RRP of 79.99, and looks like it will contain the same discs as the individual season sets, with all the same commentary tracks, animatics, artwork galleries deleted scenes, etc. Here's the groovy box art...

Fox are adding ten more titles to their 5.99 budget range on October the 4th. The titles joining the collection are Poison Ivy 2, Hoffa, Black Widow, Brubaker, The Hustle, Stir of Echoes, Entrapment, Family Business, Rising Sun and Kiss of Death. No technical details were announced. Here's a look at the sleeve art...

Bad news for UK Babylon 5 fans: Warner Home Video has delayed the release of both the Babylon 5 Movie Collection box set (containing Thirdspace, A Call To Arms and River of Souls) and the Series 5 box set. The Movies set will now be released on January 17th 2005, the Series 5 set will be released on February the 28th 2005.

More bad news - Network are postponing the release of all their remaining September titles (including The Adventures of Robin Hood - Series 3, The Adventures of Dick Turpin - Series 3, and Chancer - Series 1 and 2). These delays are also likely to have a knock-on effect on some of the October titles, too (Star Cops and The Sweeney - Series 4, for example).

I've had a quick look at MGM's two-disc Species Special Edition, which is being released next week, and can confirm some of the details (durations, bit-rates, etc).

The first disc contains the film, in anamorphic 2.35:1 ratio, with a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio tracks (DD at 448kbps, DTS at 754kbps). The average bitrate is 8.43Mb/s, rarely dipping below 7.9Mb/s (and then probably only on fades to black).

The disc has English HoH subtitles for the film and the supplements (excluding the two commentary tracks). The film retains its original burnt-in captions ("U.S. GOVERNMENT LABORATORIES DUGWAY, UTAH", etc).

The film is accompanied by two new commentary tracks.

The second disc contains a five-minute featurette, titled Species III Set Invasion, promoting the next film in the series, (which features Natasha Henstridge, albeit perhaps only in the first couple of scenes).

There are five featurettes, all featuring a mix of contemporary interviews, raw footage, on-set footage and new material: The Concept (17m), The Origin (10m, an interview with Producer / writer Dennis Feldman), The Discovery (20m), Designing a Hybrid (15m) and H.R. Giger at Work (12m, including a lot of footage about the film's excised nightmare train sequence). The disc also contains an Alternate Ending (a two-minute scene which would have been tagged on after the rat scene at the end - don't get too excited, it's simply a scene that reunites Marg Helgenberger and Michael Madsen's characters, indicating a long-term relationship).


6th September 2004

It's going to be a busy week here this week, even without Ceri, who's still enjoying a break! (He'll be back with major updates to the Incoming and Offers pages next week). In the meantime, new bargains are being flagged over at the High Street section of Roobarb's DVD Forum. The Incoming page has had a cursory update - I've checked that all the new titles listed for release today are still expected, and have moved the ones that aren't to their new release dates.

Ceri's written a review of Network's two-disc Till Death Us Do Part - The Complete 1974 Series DVD, which is available now! Click on the sleeve image, right, or here to read the review! I've got another review lined up for you this week, and it's for one of the big Summer blockbusters. Stay tuned!


Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.

RECENT DVD REVIEWS

Van Helsing - Released October the 11th.

 

 

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